Bennett, Holly Shapeshifter
Orca 2010 244p 12.95
978-1-55469-158-6 ms/hs Fantasy E-BN
Sive possesses two unique talents, the ability to sing and the ability to change into a deer. She is caught and used by the evil Dark Man, but saves her child and eventually escapes by shapeshifting and surviving in the mountains. Her son finds her and helps her become human once more. Orca Soundings never disappoints the reader, whether the story be a quick read for the teenager who has an hour or two to spare or a full novel for a longer sitting. In this case, Holly Bennett has taken an Irish myth about a woman who lives in a parallel land to Ireland called Tir na nOg, a land in which she has an unusual ability to change into a deer at will, and to return to human form whenever it suits her. She has the voice of an angel, and when evil Far Doirche hears her perform, he wants her, seemingly for love. He pursues her relentlessly, and she is able to escape his advances by shapeshifting into a deer and fleeing her homeland. For years, she hides in the mountains until she meets the love of her life, Finn mac Cumhail, who she weds, and subsequently finds herself in a family way. A wizard of sorts, Far Doirche changes his appearance and tricks her, stealing her outright from her home and taking her into his own home where he imprisons her for years with the hope of conquering others by using Sive’s musical talents to weaken his enemies. The plot may sound complicated, but the details flow along smoothly, aided by a glossary of pronunciation and a dictionary of characters and settings. Not only does the author create an appealing description of the transformation from human to deer, but she also creates a timeless theme in that of self-sacrifice for one’s family and beliefs. As one sees, heroine Sive gives herself to Far Doirche to save her child, and when she believes that he has survived, figures out a way to save herself by shapechanging again. The story does not end until, as an adult, Sive’s child, Oisin, figures out how to reach his mother, now a deer, because she has forgotten how to be a woman, by using the beauty of music. This story is unique, the characters and plot are appealing to both male and female readers, and the action never stops. Bennett has written a remarkable novel.
This book is a perfect choice for a middle school or high school library. A librarian could easily include this novel in its mythology section to show children that Romans and Greeks do not have exclusive rights to mythology! Squaresky, Martha
Irish mythological story of love & life of Sive